<m2m-eng> The next camp
Jo van der Spek M2M
jo at xs4all.nl
Tue Jun 12 10:07:38 CEST 2012
"We are free because we are together"
The third protest camp of refugees-on-the-street took place last month
in Ter Apel NL, in front of the big complex for processing asylum
seekers and un(der)documented migrants. The camp is a form of autonomous
action by a collective of victimized and criminalised men and women.
It is not a new tactics in the global social movement of migrants (see e.g.
"Jungle" of Sangatte, near calais in France) but for The Netherlands it
constitutes an important step ahead. For Dutch activists like myself it is
encouraging to be able to join directly with the people whose rights they
been trying to defend for years. And we could join them in the way of the
activist: initiating a concrete and radical action to make a different way
looking at migration possible.
>From the perspective of the undocumented migrants, there was hardly
any alternative left. The choice for many is between detention and
leading a miserable life on the street, after exhausting all your
reserves and the generosity of your friends. Many have no way of
leaving the country. They cannot go to Germany or Belgium and if they
do so legally they will be returned (based on the Dublin Claim rule).
Moving on to Canada or USA is a wish but expensive and complicated if
you don't have some connections already. So if you have really good
reasons for not going back to your country of origin, to your mother,
to your old friends and to the naturalness of social life, than you
have to do something drastic to stop going crazy and losing your
A powerful illustration came when the riot police came to arrest the
mostly Somali refugees in the camp, after the Iraqi's had consented to
accept shelter and give up the camp. The Somali brothers lined up in
front of the TV-camera's, they looked straight into the lens, standing
tall. They raised their writsts and held them up in the air, crossing
their wrists as if hand-cuffed. With all the agony and anger their
message was for me: "You can come and get me, motherfuckers. You can
put me in prison, but my mind is free." Their yelling "Human Rights"
and "We don't go" and their passive resistance to the intimidation by
police violence was impressive for those who were with the Somali's,
Irani's and others who were all arrested in the end (total 117). We
were 3 or 4 activists, the old doctor Co and myself. This exclusive
image of power and pride was indeed very uplifting. These are the guys
you can practice real solidarity with. No dependency but equal exhange
here. No charity but true collaboration.
That is why I look forward to the next camp! Or march, or whatever comes
Sounds of the Camp including the eviction on the 23rd of May can be heard at
for Arab readers:
Video in English by Huib Schoonhoven:
Like a Somali
Twitter: @m2mjo #Apel
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